Good Morning

I picked my mom up from the airport last night.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and I went to yoga, even after getting only ~3 hours of sleep because I woke up at 3 a.m. elbowed by Jesse with a full bladder. By the time I got back to bed, I was too excited about potentially getting up in 2.5 hours that I just kind of zenned in and out of consciousness.

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I’m getting my hair done today with my favorite hairdresser.

I’m going to take my mom to the most delicious vegan restaurants in town.

I’m going to by warm socks this weekend so I stop stealing all of Jesse’s. Bad Jen. Bad.

I’m going to practice self-care, starting with really paying attention to the things that serve me, instead of simply working towards something because I feel like I should.

You see, I’m coming to the realization that I’ve gotten lazy about what is right for me. I have been so caught up in what is immediately gratifying lately – like sleeping in – that I’ve lost site of the big picture. I’ve lost sight of what makes me feel like myself, what’s good for me, and what I need to be doing to feel fulfilled and productive.

It’s life. These things happen.

But now, I’m back on track. Even one tiny step, one little forward fold, made me feel more grateful, more at-peace, and more congruent than I’ve felt in weeks. I did something good for myself this morning and now I know the rest of my day will be a clean slate, unmarked by guilt that I should have gone to yoga. I did. It made me feel good. I’m glad I went.

Have a good Thursday, friends. Thanks for all the suggestions for getting out of bed, they honestly helped a million times over.

Dealing with Jerks

The other night when we were at the Taking Back Sunday show, there was this girl in the crowd who was just looking to fight someone. Unfortunately, I happened to be directly in the way of her and her one true love – Taking Back Sunday. She immediately began becoming very physical with me, shoving, stepping on my feet, and throwing her arms over my shoulders eclipsing my ears. I pondered what to do with this situation.

When you’re in the pit, you’re already sweaty, your adrenaline is pumping, and you are trying not to get crushed. You have to flex a certain amount of ego not to get completely trampled or pushed down or back from the spot you are in. I certainly didn’t want to lose my spot because Jesse and I had spent quite a long time working our way forward. At first, I wanted to just hit her. Not a pretty thing, not the most mentally healthy thing, but I strive for authenticity here. I was definitely in the fight or flight response.

Of course, my second response was just to give up and back up. But, my ego was already on the chopping block + I really like Taking Back Sunday + I didn’t want Jesse to have to move because of this horrible girl. So, I dealt with it until she started verbally abusing me. Then I just retorted with, “Why are you so being so mean?”

It pretty much resolved the conflict immediately. This girl had no reasonable answer for me. She was being mean for her own selfish benefit, wasting her time she could have been spending enjoying music, by trying to fight with a complete stranger. It got me to thinking, I wonder if people would want to know how I handle these issues, because let’s face it – there are a lot jerks in this world.

It’s important to use empathy in these situations. Sometimes, it will help diffuse the whole thing because people will feel understood, which is ultimately all that they want (an apology usually goes a long way too if you can admit when you’re wrong or you recognize that bruising your ego is not as bad as bruising your body in a physical fight). It also helps to understand the mental state of someone who is antagonizing you. In this situation, it was clear this girl wasn’t a happy person.

Anyone who spends the bulk of their time seeking out opportunities for conflict with others cannot think highly of themselves. Who would want to bring all that garbage on themselves daily? Sure, it’s fun for a bit when you’re high on adrenaline, but ultimately you’re ruining opportunities for connection, which is not what life is about. We’re created to connect. When you outright confront somebody’s behavior, it gives them pause. Rather than being the victim, address the jerk. Don’t whimper, don’t whine, just tell them very plainly that you are sorry that they did not get what they wanted, but ultimately, it doesn’t give them the right to rob you of your happiness. If you’re astute enough, call them out on their emotional state.

Nothing takes the wind out of someone’s sails like being told, “I’m sorry that you are so miserable that you are behaving in a way that’s depriving you of the opportunity to enjoy this show.”

Boom.

I’ve never been in a fight, I don’t intend to be, but sometimes we have to deal with people who are irrational, hurting, or angry. If they can’t resolve their problems internally, they may project them onto you. I see this happen daily with the poor Seattle bus drivers. Between the population of people who utilize public transportation and the disaster that is trying to get somewhere on time on a bus, people just get angry at the bus driver when ultimately, it’s rarely in their control.

Don’t let yourself become someone’s dumping ground for their own emotional turmoil.

What about you guys? Any strategies or suggestions for dealing with jerks?

Crochet Saved My Life [Book Review]

A few weeks ago, a reader contacted me and asked me if I would like a copy of her book, “Crochet Saved My Life“.

Being that I love reading and I’m generally open to anything free, awesome, and dealing with psychology. I said, “Heck, yes!”

What Kathryn didn’t know is that in a small way, crochet also saved my life.

Shortly after I graduated college in 2009, I went through a break-up. This break-up was one that I did not see coming and one that my cerebral mind could not make sense of. Even worse, the economy was down and I was back home living with my parents. Things were rough. I was working at a preschool (not my field of study) and feeling like a world-class loser. I knew I wanted to to go to graduate school for counseling, but that was six months to a year away. My heartache bled through my house and my mother comforted me many times as I spontaneously sobbed to her in the kitchen. I felt completely unworthy of love and very confused about who I was as a person.

One night, I was sitting on the couch and my sister was crocheting her Christmas gifts for the family. {She does this notoriously, usually getting about one gift accomplished each season, maybe two. I’ve been lucky and loved enough to receive a crocheted gift two years in a row!} I was sitting on the couch about one glass (or three?) of wine in my system, allowing the thoughts to ruminate, feeling the salt burn my eyes as I held back my heartache. My sister piped up with, “Do you want to crochet? It produces serotonin!”

So, I began to crochet. I crocheted through the winter. I made some measly scarves and a beanie that looked mostly like a overgrown yarmulke. When the chill left and the spring came, I went to grad school and I crocheted until my life was so full and vibrant, I left the hook alone. I haven’t picked it up since, but I feel a warmth when I think about my time crocheting. Those memories don’t hurt.

This book written by Kathryn Vercillo is a labor of love and expertise. I feel a kindred spirit with Kathryn because she’s wrestled with deep depression and I feel even closer to her because she’s just brazen enough to talk about it, write about it, and be about it. She interviewed over 20 women who have found relief from other mental health and physical issues and got their stories about their relationship with the crochet hook. The memoirs of these women are raw and beautiful. From severe trauma to anxiety disorders, Kathryn covers the facts and narratives that truly flesh out what an amazing craft crochet is.

When reflecting back on my time crocheting, I see all the benefits of crochet Kathryn outlines in her book in my own experience:

  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Breaking the cycle of rumination (this one was huge for me!)
  • Serotonin release (I guess my sister is pretty smart, eh?)
  • Healing benefits of visualizing and completing a project
  • Building Self-Esteem
  • Developing a New Interest
  • Color and Mood – It’s difficult to stay globally depressed when you’re buried deep in beautiful colors and really just paying attention to details of the world like color. (Another example of mindfulness)
  • Sense of Touch – specifically in depression, touch can be very strange. Very often in the depressed, touch is desperately longed for, yet terrifying and uncomfortable. Having the opportunity to create a relationship with fabrics (that sounds weird, but you know what I mean) that ultimately allow you to grow and potentially create relationships through those efforts of crochet and touch (like giving your efforts as gifts) is desensitizing to the touch that can feel so overwhelming in depression.

Kathryn, I loved your book. I admire your courage, your resilience, and your fabulous writing skills. You kept me hooked. 😉 {Bet no one has made that joke yet!}